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Many individuals find that a brain injury can affect a person forever. A person's abilities, strengths, and personality can all change significantly.
After brain injury, most people go through a period of emotional recovery. The person with brain injury and their loved ones may need to process how their lives have been affected by the loss of abilities, personality changes, vocational adjustments, and changes in family structure and support.
Mental Health Professionals
A mental health professional can assist with emotional adjustment issues, help a person accept their new self, and address self-esteem issues. Many times people may need to explore questions of meaning, spirituality, and identify the new role he or she plays in the family or community. There are many types of professionals who deal with mental health and the emotional issues related to brain injury. The following is a list of some of the professionals in the counseling/therapeutic field.
A professional psychologist has broad knowledge about human behavior and understands how to apply that knowledge to help people explore personal issues and affect change. Psychologists provide evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional issues and disorders.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSWs)
Family and Marriage Counselors
Counselors specialize in the application of counseling and psychological theory as well as methods to treat and prevent psychosocial dysfunction, disability or impairment. Counselors can address cognitive, affective or behavioral issues. They provide a individuals, families and/or groups therapy.
Religious leaders have been trained to support persons in distress in their community. They are able to help people solve problems and assist with referrals to a skilled counselor or therapist.
Problem behaviors are those that interfere with a person's ability to be independent or relate to others. The most common forms of behavior changes in people who have sustained brain injury involve social skills and the ways in which people interact. Other less frequent, but more difficult behavior issues include aggression, self-injury, property destruction, verbal abusiveness, tantrums and lack of awareness.
Several types of professionals can be helpful in treating behavior issues: behavior professionals, analysts, neuropsychologists, pediatricians, neurologists and psychiatrists. Behavior analysts have been effective in using positive programs to treat changes in behavior. Neuropsychologists can also be very helpful in identifying neurological factors that are critical in the design of effective behavioral treatment programs.
Questions for behavioral interventions:
- What is the educational level of the behavior professional?
- What approaches does the program use to address behavioral concerns?
- What roles do individuals and their families play in determining the types of behavioral interventions used?
- What steps does the program take to assure that behavioral interventions are clearly understood by all staff the person has contact with, and that the plan is being implemented consistently by all staff (even at 3 a.m.)?
- How is the effectiveness of behavioral interventions measured?
- What role does medication play in "behavior management?"
- Are physical restraints used? In what circumstances? What policies or protocols exist for the use of physical restraints? Can I see a copy of these?
- Is a “secure” or locked unit available? When does the program recommend the use of these? Who decides when a person is ready for an open unit after being on a secure unit? How?
- At what point is an individual's behavior deemed unacceptable to the program? How much notice does the program give the individual and their family? What efforts are made by the program to assist in locating a comparable program that can better meet the needs of the person?
Continue to the next section, "Education."